Winter Mountaineering Course - Scotland


ROCK CLIMBING - CUMBRIA (Lakes) (1 to 4 days),
SNOWDONIA (3 to 5 days)

NAVIGATION Courses - CUMBRIA (Lakes) (1 or 2 days)

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Cumbria & Lakes conditions 20/21 March

Sorry no photos today!

It's turned warm here and winter climbing & mountaineering conditions are disappearing.

I think if you get out early Saturday morning there should be a 'window' of nice weather, but get down for coffee and cakes early before a band of rain hits.
Sunday should be good later in the day so a lay in bed could be on the cards.

I've not been booked (yet) for any scrambling, climbing or mountain navigation work so am considering climbing some Classic Rock routes on Saturday morning, maybe followed by a scramble. Then Sunday morning at the indoor climbing wall before working on overdue paperwork.

Hope you get out and have fun.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Updates for March

Just updated the Blogs from 1st March with photos.
Sorry for the delay.

Hope everyone's having a great time - I'm hoping for another 4~6 weeks of winter, but I have got the Scrambling kit and Rock Climbing equipment out ready.

What a fantastic year we are having!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Rock Climbing in the Lakes

Great weather in the Lakes, with plenty of blue skies in the morning, blankets of snowdrops at low levels, and snow on the tops.
Picture is of Crinkle Crags in Greater Langdale.

Perfect weather for (early morning) Ice Climbing followed by some Scrambling, and then Rock Climbing in the early afternoon sun.

Laura is including Rock Climbing in her selection of sports for PE A-level & AS exams so we headed out to develop and practice climbing techniques, and climb a route in Langdale

A well earned rest .

Friday, 12 March 2010

Lakes Mountain Conditions - Helvellyn & Climbing

Helvellyn above Red Tarn

It looks green in the Cumbrian valleys but if you head upwards you'll find a good amount of snow and ice.

Photos are of Helvellyn above Red Tarn at 7.00 this morning. Number 2 gulley, V-corner etc look like they could be fun tomorrow morning - but I'd advise starting esarly for the best conditions and no crowds. It gets light around 06.30. The weather forecast is for a clear and cold night which should see a nice freeze.

Number 2 gully

On the tops the snow has blown across and the ground is well frozen so I'd expect great winter conditions with nice views for early risers. Don't forget your crampons though.
If you're looking for some "flat ice" to practice winter skills and especially crampon use (but possibly step cutting too) then I found some good sheets of ice above the path whilst walking. I was dashing down but if you are map reading or practicing your navigation I think you'll find it around Grid 355 158. But beware - always look at the ground below where you do any practicing and consider "what if" you trip or slip.

Striding Edge 12/3/10

I'm available for Winter Skills classes as well as Navigation, Scrambling, and Rock Climbing - but not this weekend. I can be contacted at
I'll be going rock climbing in the Lake District. Developing a climber who wants to progress to severe climbs, do retrievable abseiling ,and top ropeing. We'll also do some navigation, route finding, and although it will be chilly I expect to see a fair amount of sun.

Have a great weekend.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Winter Skills Day 3 - Aonach Mor

An early start to catch the early gondola with the chairlift staff. Ian was disapointed that there was to be no early morning cafe stop today but we also caught the 4-seat chairlift, which surprisingly stopped, leaving us sitting there tantilizingly close to the drop-off point. We were soon walking up with the early ice climbers.

Conditions today were very serious on the top as we approached our latest Munro summit - Aonach Mor 1221mtrs 4006ft, 8th highest.
Total whiteouts are very unnerving, you can see literally nothing but white, you can't see an edge or horizon and could walk off a cliff. Paul, Ian and Martin took it in turns to  navigate; walking on compass bearings and measuring distances by pacing. This is especiallt important when there are steep cliffs to either side of you. I ensured everything went well and we tried different techniquest to help in these tough condtions.

Ice formed on Paul and Martyn. The moderatelly strong winds were so cold and laden with moisture that ice formed on the wind-side of jackets etc. But we were cosy in our modern jackets and clothing.

On the way down we tried emergency winter shelters, and found some reasonably flat ice to practice step cutting wiht ice axes, a technique used if you come across a short patch of slippery ground where putting on/off crampons might not be considered.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Winter Skills Day 2 - Cairngorms

ok you can turn the picture on it's side.

Day 2 - Armed with Ice Axes, Crampons etc. we headed off to the Cairngorms, 90 minutes away.
We arrived at 8.30 but the top car park was already full - an excellent bus service whisked us up the hill rapidly. I discovered none of the group had any breakfast and our exploration of mountain cafe's continued.  We don't want to run out of energy, especially in winter, so Bacon Sarnies and hot drinks were ordered.
We up the snowy slopes into the clouds to spot height 1141, did crampon practice, hopped like frogs (you had to be there) and got giddy with games and got used to wearing crampons. Visibility during the ascent was very poor, but we were on snow just yards from the bus.

We navigated over to the summit of Cairngorm, in the top 10 highest peaks in the UK, where the visibility lifted giving momentary views of distant white summits.
Walking down from the summit we found our highest cafe (this was becoming a tour of mountain cafe's and cakes, but everyone was enjoying themselves). Then with beautiful clear skies we headed down to the cars.
A day of navigating in poor visibility, moving on snow slopes, using crampons and ice axes.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Winter Skills Day 1 - Nevis Range

An organized group of 7 has arrived from the depths of South West Britiain. An EasyJet flight and hire car saw them arrive last night at a cosy cottage near Roy Bridge. The accents are an interesting contrast to the Scots, and the talk of surfboards has me confused.

This morning we sorted hire boots, crampons, ice axes, helmets, snow shovels, first aid kits etc. before heading up the convenient Nevis Range gondola. This also started our tour of Scottish mountain cafes - nice coffee and cakes!
We walked up to the high point, getting used to our axes and moving on snow whilst avoiding skiers who were coming down as we went up. At the top it was breezy and we stopped above Easy Gully to "enjoy" the delight of my 8-person group-shelter whilst grabbing a quick bite to eat and donning fresh gloves.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Beinn Udlaidh, Doctor's Dilemma

There's still a lot of snow around and we wanted a short day that avoided any avalanche risk so have been back to Ben Udlaidh. Warning - avoid the left side and routes like Quartzvein Scoop,they are very full of snow and banked out. I suggest AVOIDING the left side of the clifff from Sunshine Gully.
The popular route today was Doctor's Dilemma IV.4 180mtrs.

We set off behind 2 very efficient pairs so no hold ups, and were soon joined by Bruce who was guiding 2 climbers for West Coast Mountain Guides / Alan Kimber so I snapped some pictures and dropped them off with Alan Kimber later.

The ice formation at the top included some spectacular overhanging "umbrellas" of ice

Yup, another sunny day.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Beinn Dearg, North Scotland - a missed opportunty

We headed further north hoping to climb Emerald Gully IV.4 but I woosed out. A blister is coming and I have winter clients arriving in 2 days so need to be careful, also we heard warnings of gullys full of snow and  the recent news of avalanches. So we walked in optimistically but I felt in need of a rest and we turned around.

We had great views of a very white An Teallach, but this is a picture of todays objective, Beinn Dearg (not reached... this time)
We headed back south, breaking the journey for a nice lunch at the Mountain Cafe Aviemore 
There's loads of snow around and a few days ago Aviemore was snowed in with Tesco's running out of some foods.

More blue sky!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Applecross, NW Scotland - March Hare's Gully

We headed North (after climbing Eas Anie) on wonderfully narrow roads to stop at the Jacobites Mountaineering Club hut at Inver. A wonderfully remote and cared for hut. Despite being away from the road the members have carried in an Ikea kitchen, large gas bottles and a solar system for lighting - extreemly impressive.
The sleeping is on wooden platforms (needing a thermarest and very warm bag) and after a late supper and long day we were off to do some heavy-duty snoring before getting up (slightly too late) and heading off.

Beinn Bhan has a series of cliffs and this picture is the very impressive Coire Na Poite. The ice in the left/middle is Silver Tear V.5 350m, the most popular route today. We headed for March Hare's Gully IV.4 300mtrs where I grabbed the crux first pitch - wonderful and well protected with hexes and ice screws.

We stretched the pitches and got onto the ridge and summit in time for photos and to decend just as it got dark. We'd summitted ahead of other teams that started ahead of us on other routes and hope the decent in the dark was ok.

Yet another sunny day - we are getting tanned (when out of the gulleys)!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Beinn Chuirn - EAS ANIE

Eas Annie 150m IV.4 (left variation). This is in the Tyndrum area so reasonably "south" and also very convenient for the The Real Food Cafe great food, fast service, and free water!
We hitched a lit down the (extreemly) snowy long track with the geologist who's trying to open a gold mine (yes there's gold in these hills!).

Wow - more blue skies!   We started fairly low so we could get 3 pitches in.
The couple behind us caught up and we realised we'd been sharing routes on previous days.


Above you'll see the IV.4 variation going straight up, and the III which goes more rightwards.
Look carefully to see the yellow helmet at the bottom of the ice. This route took all our 10 ice screws - if you have a few more they might be useful.

Above the steep sheet the fun continues with more steep ice in amazing formations.